The Golden Years

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In 1938, the world was on the brink of war. The United States was also on the brink of a revolution--a comics revolution where Superman fired the first bullet, and the Golden Years of the comic book began there, with Superman. The success of that first super hero comic book triggered the growth of a new industry dedicated to original stories told through comic-style illustrations.

The comic book industry expanded quickly and needed new artists and writers. In the beginning, before the war, there were quite a few young and innocent cartoonists all full of creative energy. After the war, with innocence lost, the creative spark dwindled for a few years then was rekindled by another young group who brought with them more "adult" (sophisticated) themes, many written by soon-to-be famous authors, such as Ray Bradbury.

World War II made America grow up, and during this time the comics industry also grew up. Many super heroes got their start during the war, but many of those never made it back after the war ended, and the survivors had to be given better stories, better leading characters, and better villains. A lot of the publishers who ventured into the comic book field either retreated to publishing magazines or books, or went out of business.

The golden years of comic books, to my way of thinking, didn't end after the war, as many comic book historians tend to believe, but continued until Sen. Eugene McCarthy and Dr. Frederick Wertham scared the living bejesus out of God-fearing parents, and the ridiculous self-imposed Comics Code came into being around 1954. This virtually castrated the maturing comic book industry, effectively inhibiting growth and creativity for nearly two decades.

On the following pages are scanned covers from my collection with some historical notes and occasional insights into the artists and authors of the era.

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